Courts & Crime

'Toy' assault rifles that could shoot real bullets are seized

Customs officers seized 30 machine guns at the Port of Tacoma, a Customs & Border Protection news release announced today.

The weapons, copies of M-4 automatic rifles, arrived in a 40-foot container on Oct. 20, 2009, the news release said. The shipment, listed on the manifest as "Toys and Parts," was valued at $10,000 and came from a manufacturer in Taiwan.

According to Customs & Border Protection, the rifles were of the same size, weight and look of the M-4 rifle, the weapon used by the United States military. The weapons bore no serial numbers and did not have an orange-blaze tip, which is required for all imports of toy guns, the Customs news release stated.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms responded to the Port of Tacoma warehouse where the shipment was unloaded for inspection. ATF agents took a sample rifle for evaluation.

On Jan. 25, the ATF submitted its report. It found "that in their imported condition the rifles were tooled to shoot plastic balls. However, replacement of internal components with original machine-gun components could be accomplished within a short period of time, thus rendering the rifles capable of firing live ammunition," the Customs news release said.

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